I am pro-life. But let’s be honest, everyone is pro-life. No one wants babies killed. No one. If we really want to stop abortion, shaming women is not the way to do it. Instead we must understand and address the root causes.
Focusing on making abortion illegal is like focusing on mopping up the water on the floor as a bathtub continues to overflow. You must address the source of the water. You must turn off the faucet at the source.
Abortions have been on a steady and rapid decline in the United States since 1992. This is not coincidence. When women have access to sex education and affordable birth control, they are less likely to have unwanted pregnancies. By taking away sex education in the name of prudence, we could in fact be denying young women of the information they need to make smart choices, which is likely to increase the rate of unwanted pregnancies.
By taking away women’s access to affordable health services (including family planning) in their communities (because many do not have the means to travel), we increase the likelihood of unwanted pregnancies.
By taking away women’s access to affordable birth control (especially for women living in poverty who must consider whether to pay their rent or a $50 co-pay, assuming they can afford health insurance at all), we increase the likelihood of unwanted pregnancies.
By condoning or denying a rape culture, we increase the likelihood of unwanted pregnancies.
And by increasing the likelihood of unwanted pregnancies – particularly among women living in poverty who know they cannot afford to raise a(nother) child – we increase the likelihood of abortions.
Yes, they could choose adoption (and we all hope they would), but pregnancy is expensive. If you take away access to affordable pre-natal care, you increase the likelihood of complications, which increases the likelihood that babies will be born with “defects,” and those babies are much harder to place; those babies end up needing very costly care that few parents are willing or able to provide.
We must turn off the faucet. Then we can clean up the floor.
All students should receive sex education in schools.
Young women should also receive self-defense instruction as part of that sex education curriculum.
Women should have access to affordable family planning consultation near where they live.
Women should have access to affordable birth control, even if they do not have health insurance.
Men should be held accountable for their actions. For every 1000 rapes committed in this country, 994 perpetrators walk free (according to RAINN – Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network). That's more than 99%. (How would you feel about this if your daughter had been raped?) In addition, more than half of men who have admitted to committing or attempting rape admit to doing it multiple times.
Underage drinking laws should be enforced on college campuses, including in fraternity houses. One in 5 women are sexually assaulted in college.
Men should also be held accountable for their words. It is never OK to joke about sexual assault. It isn’t funny; it isn’t charming; it is not normal “locker room banter.” Young men should be taught in schools how to hold each other accountable on this, and schools should take serious disciplinary action when they are made aware of degrading behavior. So should employers. So should our elected officials.
If you are serious about decreasing the number of abortions in this country, start by advocating for these things, not against them. Do what you can to turn off the faucet! If you are unwilling to be part of the solution, then for the love of all that is good and just, at least stop shaming people who are.